Pandemic Series; Views from the window seat.
July 22, 2020
PART 1 Oh, the despair!
“There’s a light at each end of this tunnel, you shout. But you’re just as far in as you’ll ever be out.”
We are six months into the pandemic. Six months from the first verified case in the U.S. It feels like things are happening all at once and in slow motion. Currently, I am supposed to be developing interesting content for my soon to be website and I am struggling. The struggle shows up in a couple of ways. I will have nothing to write about, literally my mind is blank when I stare at the white page on the computer screen. Conversely, I will have so many feelings and ideas happen at once it is hard to keep my train of thought and my brain feels like it is on fire. I have difficulties staying connected and grounded in the piece I am trying to put together. Lose threads spin out from my mind in all different directions. Finally, there is a little “fuck it” mentality I have developed as of late. Dishes aren’t done, fuck it. Eating take out again, fuck it. I recognize this feelings. The despair is back.
My problems with the written word feels small when compared to the struggles I observe on social media feed and my TV screen. Black people literally fighting for their lives in the streets. People all over our nation fighting to breathe. The combined viruses of our hearts and our bodies are waging war. All while the person occupying the highest office in our land rages about his personal injustices and commits crimes on a regular basis.
Six months ago, the world felt like a different place. I felt different. I had just come from a difficult place and felt like I had stepped into the light again. In January of this year, I took a plane to L.A. with Sara. I bought myself a ticket to participate in Rob Bell’s Something to Say class. I had no idea the trip would lead to new opportunities and connecting with so many wonderful people.
During my time in L.A., I got to sit for about 30 mins in front of Rob and 30 new friends and undergo something I call “soul surgery”. Basically, this former pastor turned part stand up comic and part Gestalt therapist sat in front of me and asked where I was stuck in my creativity. With that simple question, I explored my writing and my work on the podcast. Another question he asked, “What do you want” made me pause. It was hard to articulate at the time and I had never said out loud what I want in this work. I explained that I need to tell Finn’s story and my story so that people will know what an amazing person he is. I need the world to understand who he is. I want people to know the joy that I experience being his mother. I want people to know the complexities in this life with him. That we are joyful and still need help. That he can not speak for himself and yet, he is very opinionated. That he is worthy not because he can produce something but he is worthy because he is alive.
When I went to L.A., I was carrying around the weight of survival mode and despair. Despair for me meant that I felt like I was resigned to doing the same thing over and over again in my role as a special needs parent. The same IEP meetings, the same therapy appointments, the same doc appointments and the same fight everyday just for my kid to get what he needs. When I left L.A., I felt the despair lift away. I felt like for the first time in a long time I was no longer in survival mode.
A few weeks later I was home enjoying a rhythm in my life of therapy and writing and then the pandemic struck hard. Schools were shut down and our life was upended. I cut way back on working. We no longer had a rhythm in our lives. I felt shock at first. Shock, that our greatest country on Earth was in kind of a lock down and so uncertain of what our future looked like in the midst of the virus. I was angry and sad that my child was so unhappy. He and I were together in the house all day, everyday and I am poor substitute for his entire team of therapists and teachers. He was grieving for his friends and his team. The worst part, I could not help him understand why it was he couldn’t go to his favorite place.
The despair crept in. What I thought I had left in L.A. wound its way back into my brain. Get up, try to help Finn in therapy and school, clean, eat, watch the news, cry, hold my breath, eat, help Finn to bed, watch TV and not be able to sleep. Repeat into the next day. The feeling of being in a literal groundhog day left me most days sitting at the kitchen table staring into space. I was back to doing the same thing over and over again. Back to the despair.
While I sit in the despair and search again for the relief from this feeling, I am learning some truths about myself and the world around me.
First, it is okay to hit a wall and feel the sadness in the world at large. We are losing loved ones to the virus and our Black brothers and sisters are in the streets fighting for their lives. We are in the middle of a human revolution. We are experiencing the old dehumanizing systems breaking and new more humane systems being built. It also normal to feel all the things at once as you watch or more hopefully participate in the revolution. Anger, hope, relief, fear, disbelief, connection, isolation and clarity.
Second, I recognize that the despair does not overshadow everything the way it used to. I recognize it now. And because I can recognize it and name it, it has less power than it did before. It is similar to being in the ocean for the first time. You get hit with a big wave and it knocks you down. Eventually, you learn to ride the wave. Doesn’t mean you won’t fall again or get sand in your face. It just means that you are able to right yourself a little more quickly when that happens.
Finally, I know I am not alone. I am not able to connect with family and friends physically. We heavily social distance because the risk is to great that we will have complications should we get the virus. I do connect with people now in a more intentional way. I also find myself having deeper conversations with my loved ones. They are hard issues we are discussing but they are worth it.
I know, someday soon, the virus will be contained. I know that we will continue to work towards a better way of life. I know that humanity is headed in the right direction. I believe that many of us will do the hard work to make a better world for our Black brothers and sisters to lift them up. I know that I will find a rhythm again soon and despair will not loom as large. Until then, welcome despair let us sit and talk and get to know one another better.